Sunday, January 4, 2009

2009: Year of Science?

I tuned into NPR last week and was lucky enough to catch the Science Friday broadcast by Ira Flatow. Turns out 2009 is actually (the?) Year of Science. Why? Well, for one thing, there are a lot of anniversaries this year. 2009 marks Darwin's 200th birthday and 400 years since Galileo first used a telescope to study the skies. Another reason is that science is timely - between stem cells and biofuels, science has recaptured the public's attention.

What does a "Year of Science" actually entail? Well, the Year of Science is actually a network of scientists and educators who are putting on free, open-to-the-public science events, programs, and celebrations. The general theme is that science is a positive force in the world, fun, and worthy of celebration. Every month in 2009 will have its own theme, e.g. February is Evolution. You can find local events in your neighborhood, or create an event, at Who knows - maybe we can even create an online event for the Year of Science (a bunch of science experiments on YouTube, perhaps?).

I'm a bit skeptical that people can be convinced that science is a cause worth celebrating. (Maybe if we changed the word "science.") Still, I'm happy to see people at least making an effort. Science does have an image problem, and research can be emotionally draining. Sometimes we all need a reminder that science can also be fun - and something to laugh about. I think the Year of Science is part of a larger movement trying to find the lighter side of science, such as the annual "Dance Your PhD" competition put on by the venerable AAAS (publishers of the journal Science). Here's this year's winner, it's worth watching till the end.



YZF said...

There's nothing wrong with science's image that can't be cured with a healthy dose of Crazy. Make 2009 the Year of Mad Science. I mean, c'mon, try taking over the world once in a while!

Fatboy said...

That video is good stuff, I cant believe they had time to put that together and finish their Phd